Susurrus kinetic sculpture

“Susurrus” – to murmur or whisper.

Susurrus gently breathes, folding and unfolding as shapes intersect, combine and dissolve in an endless and effortless cycle.

Reminiscent of the pause after a long deep inhalation, Susurrus can at first glance appear static, before it gathers itself and glides into a transforming exhalation, pausing again, and repeating in a meditative cycle. This most quintessential symbol of life, the breath, is manifested in a kinetic sculptural installation of the modern industrial era, engineered with steel pistons, pivots and mechanical arms; its gearbox and motor silently supporting the fluid locomotion of organic forms reminiscent of leaves or the wings of a bird in flight.

With a total weight of 500kg, Susurrus stands at 6.8m tall and is 6.8m in diameter at the widest point of its moving arms. The central steel column tapers off a polyhedron core which is supported by a broad platform of six truss-like legs, 3.4m wide at the base. The core, panelled with timber, encloses an electric motor and gearbox that silently drive a long reciprocating piston contained within the column.   This piston actuates twelve vertically stacked, circular tiers of arms and leaves in a cyclic motion at just over two cycles per minute.   These 72 arms and 150 leaves move in a carefully co-ordinated pattern with direction and speed governed by the varied geometry of the fulcrums and links of each tier.  The motion of the piston, pivots and moving arms is very much visible and an integral part of the experience of the kinetic nature of the work.   Mounted around the perimeter of the lower core is a structure much like the sepal or guard leaves on a flower, framing the piece but additionally making it impossible to climb or gain access to any moving parts.

The leaves, made of thin polycarbonate plastic, painted in soft but saturated tones, are mounted on slender steel arms that whilst sturdy enough to resist strong winds, can flutter a little giving further life to the installation. Forming a loose spheroid, the abstract shapes act as a subtle reference to the interaction and intersection of humans, plants and animals in various cycles of life and locomotion.

Commissioned for Maitreya Festival, 2014